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NAMA and allies push for federal funds critical for increasing oat growers' profitability

January 29, 2004

CONTACT: Jim Bair, NAMA Vice President
202.484.2200, ext.107
jbair@namamillers.org

Washington, DC – January 29, 2004 – The North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) is sponsoring a team of oat growers, researchers and millers to jointly lobby Congress for federal funds to support oat research. The team will be in Washington February 10-11.

One of the participants will be incoming Oat Division Chairman, Bill Bonner, ConAgra Food Ingredients, Omaha, NE. He will be meeting with key Members of Congress. “Oat research has lagged and, as a result, yield increases have not kept pace with the other grains,” said Bonner. “The reduced profitability of growing oats has, of course, meant declining plantings and U.S. oat millers are now dependent on imports for as much as 100 million bushels annually, or about 90 percent of their grind,” Bonner continued.

Why federal funds are critical to oat farming:

  • Oats give growers another production option and are environmentally sustainable.
  • Growers must have oat varieties that compete in the market.
  • In recent years, U.S. oat production was the lowest since USDA began keeping records in 1865. Without needed research, progress in oat improvement will be slow. U.S. oat production will continue to decline, increasing our reliance on foreign sources of a basic food commodity.
  • All oat research in the U.S. is publicly funded. There are no private companies developing oat varieties.

The projects the NAMA group will be advocating include: basic genetics, new molecular techniques, plant breeding, disease resistance, germplasm enhancement and research on new and value-added uses.

In 2003, the U.S. produced 119 million bushels of oats, contributing to the production of more than $2.5 billion in food, feed, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, sweeteners and industrial products generating hundreds of millions of dollars in tax income. The food use of oats has been growing at about 5% per year.

“Milled oat products are a heart-healthy, essential food. Oats are also an environmentally sustainable crop option for growers,” Bonner continued. “Our goal is to improve the economic returns of growing oats so that more farmers will include oats in their production decisions. I’m anxious to be a part of this NAMA effort and get oat research funds in the federal budget for 2005.”

NAMA has 45 member companies operating 170 wheat, corn, oat and rye mills in 38 states and 150 cities. Its membership represents about 95% of the total U.S. capacity, totaling more than 160 million pounds of products per day.

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Statistical background information:

USDA Research Chart
http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/pdf/USDAResearchChart.pdf

Yield Comparison http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/pdf/YieldComparison.pdf

Oat Production by Decade http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/pdf/OatProductionByDecade.pdf

Oat Imports
http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/pdf/OatImports.pdf

FY2004 Oat Research Priorities http://www.namamillers.org/oldsite/pdf/OatResearchApprops2004.pdf

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